Struggling with Depression

I am taking a break from writing about fun stuff like failed relationships, RVing, reality TV and my hatred of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m going to discuss my life a bit and a one-time battle I had with what I figure is depression. I’m going to tell you what I believed triggered it, what happened while I was fully into it and what got me out of it.

I had a telephone discussion with an ex. Mistake because she blames me leaving her for the misery she finds herself in these days. In fact, she finds great pleasure in letting me know all the crap she’s been through is not a result of her refusal to work full time like us savages, but due to the lack of support I gave her. Ok. Normally that wouldn’t ┬ábother me, but this session was different. She blamed me for her not having any children. She told me she wanted to have three children and now she’s too old to have any (she is).

That made me feel bad. Then I thought sticking around her essentially ended my family line. She didn’t say so, but getting pregnant would have been difficult for her. And the fact of the matter is if she truly wanted to have a kid, we would have. Bottom line, you generally start kids with intercourse, and we weren’t having it. At least not with each other.

Anyway, I thought more about it until I could barely do anything. I would go to work, come home and get right into bed. I would lay there and let these “waves of blue” crash into me. Only after talking to a friend did I realize what was happening. She suggested I go see a therapist, which I did not. I was barely functioning but hardly anyone knew.

What got me through it? My cats. I did not always like cats. In fact, I never wanted to be around them. My cats took care of me. One of our cats would curl up next to me while I was in the fetal position. He would sleep next to me and purr. Our other cat, the anti social one, soon became much more friendly. Before long, both of them would come upstairs, get next to me and purr while my life was going into the tank.

Thats why I’m going to cry like a baby when my cats go. I really really owe them.

What snapped me out? Nothing in particular except a desire to get out of the pity party. I did. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing something.

Not everyone can do that. Hardly anyone can do that. It’s very hard. Depression is a mo—- f—-r. It can hurt you badly.

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Your First RV Should Be Used

One of my coworkers is a blabbermouth and thinks he knows everything. He keeps telling me, anyone else who would listen and some that don’t if you’re getting an RV, your first one should be used.

He rarely if ever follows up with answers like “why?”

I thought about it because my first RV was a new one, and I’ve never regretted it. Meanwhile, he purchased a used RV, a 5th wheel and it gave him all kinds of problems. Once he was towing it and the awning deployed. Yes, the awning. He had to find some tie down straps and strap them around the entire trailer to get where he was going. The air conditioner kept going out … this is Texas and you can’t have that! I’ve not had a major problem with mine. 

You can indeed have problems with your first RV if it is new, but you have to know the systems. If you have mechanical ability or you are a good student in that area, you’re probably going to be ok.

I carry a tote containing spare parts for RV systems. Check this out: we had our lock go bad, and   we couldn’t get in the thing. We did manage to break into it, but once we got inside, we couldn’t open the door. While my wife took apart the lock from the inside, I retrieved the spare lock I had in that tote. We installed it and it was like nothing happened. 

You have to be ready for stuff like that.

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How Much Can I Tow With My Truck?

Saw a couple of YouTube videos on how much can I tow.

Ah, I lost the other video, but that’s ok.

 The two guys who did them; one was a truck/RV expert, the other was a person just doing videos about the various aspects of RVing. They both got it right: 

You can tow as much as you are supposed to tow.

Every vehicle has a label on the door that tells you how much weight that can be applied to it. The owners manual tells the same story. You can make mods to beef up the truck, but you cannot reset what the manufacturer says the truck can tow.

Part of the issue is Truck manufacturers like to say how much their best trucks can tow. Unfortunately for us, you have to turn into a researcher to figure out which model and which features are required to make your truck capable of towing a certain amount.

For instance, my truck is a 2015 Ram 2500. The specs for the truck say it can tow (when properly equipped) 17,180 lbs. The manufacturer specs also say it has a 2360 lb payload capacity.

The truck’s tire specs say otherwise.

I originally had photos of the labels in my truck but they contain my VIN. 

This tag, which you should ALWAYS go by that says the combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed 2088 lbs. 

Cargo means you, your passengers, and whatever you are carrying. In the case of a 5th wheel, that means the weight that’s put on your truck by the hitch. So if you have 500 lbs to carry in people and gear, your hitch cannot put more than 1588 lbs. 

If you can find a 5th wheel hitch that puts only 1588 lbs on your truck, let me know, I’ll be in the market for it. Something you should know about about 5th wheels is they need to put weight on that hitch, because their axles can’t support the weight of the vehicle. For instance, a 5th wheel might weigh 14000 lbs but their axles can support only 12000 lbs (combined). To support that 2000 lbs, that’s what your truck does. The numbers manufacturers put on those travel trailers and 5th wheels really matter too. 

None of that matters when you’re in the dealership, except possibly to you. The salesman knows every aspect of the RV you are looking at.  Despite this, he’s going to tell you of course, your truck can tow this RV. As a matter of fact, other people with this same vehicle have towed the same RV with it! So you buy it, realizing that of course, there’s always a margin within the engineering; that a vehicle manufacturer like Ford, FCA or GM could put a few extra hundred pounds of capability but don’t list it. The problem is, the manufacturer won’t stick up for you if you have an accident or get pulled over. 

I mentioned the engineering aspect. There’s some truth to this. The point where vehicle weight (GVWR) start going commercial is 10,001 lbs. So the manufacturer lists their GVWR as 10,000 lbs. For my vehicle, the GVWR is 10,000 lbs. The GAWR is 6,000 lbs and 6,500 lbs respectively. So from a technical standpoint, the vehicle SHOULD be capable of  almost 5,000 lbs of cargo. Except for the 10,000 lb GVWR limit, and some suspension and tire issues, that would be the case.

So, this rather lengthy post deals with ensuring what your vehicle is capable of, and being safe when you are towing. Always go by the manufacturer’s number and go by the lower number when those numbers conflict.

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Goodbye to Gander Mountain

Some of you know the sporting goods store Gander Mountain is going out of business. I was one of those people sad to see Gander Mountain shutting down. It was an option for those of us into the outdoors, for things we really needed. Before we went to Yellowstone, we obtained some of our outerwear and footwear from Gander Mountain. After all, they were the only nearby sporting goods store in South Texas that carried cold-weather gear.

Which in part led to their downfall. All the stores apparently had the same gear — cold weather clothing. A store in Duluth MN had the same gear as a store in Houston, TX. It doesn’t take a genius to realize a place that has a for-real winter like the North Central US isn’t like the Southern US where there are only two months of sub-50 degree weather.

Then Gander Mountain revealed itself for … itself.

In February, one of my co-workers mentioned Gander Mountain was filing for bankruptcy. I was not totally surprised by this, since the store was almost always empty except for the gun counter. I was surprised by Gander Mountain’s sales tactics. I purchased a firearm from Gander Mountain AFTER they announced they were “restructuring.” I had even spoken to the salesperson who sold me the firearm about the so-called restructuring. They were closing almost all of their stores in Texas. The salesperson wanted to sell me a service plan. Now why would you need a service plan from a store that’s going out of business? Then this guy says to me, a “3-year service plan is only a little more than a 1-year service plan.” I’m like, ok buddy, I see you’re in this for yourself. So am I. I notice the service plan offers 3 free cleanings, but doesn’t have a time limit on it. So after I buy the thing, I fire it at the range. I run about 200 rounds through it, and immediately take it back to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. Then I bring my other firearm that my wife had bought me, over to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. The same salesperson is like starting to make excuses, like they have a lot of guns in for cleaning. I’m like ok, I can wait. Now, Gander Mountain won’t take firearms for cleaning or service; a fact my wife found out for herself when she called them to ask about it.

Another one of their less scrupulous sales tactics is marking stuff down in an area without actually putting it in their systems. Because they have no scanners in the store, you won’t know the Gander Mountain price without going to the cashier. I had already thought about writing this, but going over there today put me over the top. I wanted to buy some shoes — they actually have some good deals on shoes IF you can find your size and what you want. So they have a sign saying 40% off trail and hiking shoes. I asked the cashier to scan the shoes and it came out to 30% off. I brought back the 40% sign and asked for the discount. She didn’t even bother arguing; she just marked it off 40%. It was only $6, but that’s seemingly part of their strategy. If it isn’t a whole lot of money, people will just give up and pay more. I wouldn’t say this is a strategy if I didn’t have some evidence. Last week, I purchased a pull over — imagine, buying a pull over in San Antonio Texas in June — for 50% off. Except it only came out to 40% off. The cashier said it was a mistake; they just marked it down and they hadn’t had time to put it into the system. Ok, the difference between the prices was supposedly small enough that the cashier told me to go find something else to make up the difference. I was wandering around the store trying to find something in Gander Mountain for $8.00. Almost everything at that price was sold out.

Which gets me to another point. Gander Mountain was and is expensive. Expensive meaning, I could find whatever clothing they sold at Academy for about half to 2/3rds of the price. When Gander Mountain announced they were selling off their merchandise, I immediately went to see what they did to their pricing. Gander Mountain ditched all the sales they had advertised, brought their pricing back up, then gave you 20-50% off. In other words, the merchandise sell off was getting prices to the Academy level. Naturally San Antonians were suckered into the place and ransacked it looking for non-existent cheap stuff.

One item I really wanted were Coleman flashlights. I wasn’t going to buy any until the price went down. Gander Mountain was selling these flashlights for $19, then to $17. On their website, they were selling them for $10! They dropped the price to $15, then they went away. I assume they sent them to another store because no one was buying them.

I’ve now seen where Camping World’s CEO has purchased the Gander Mountain name, and claims he will re-open up to 70 of the old stores. Interesting since Camping World isn’t cheap, either. What Camping World has going for it is the niche market of RVers who know Wal-Mart doesn’t have everything an RVer needs readily available. The CEO mentioned Gander Mountain had purchased too much merchandise, which is true. The store here in San Antonio is going to be open until August, so they are shipping other stuff in from other Gander Mountains. In the meantime, I hope they do a better job than the previous corporation. They pretty much sent a store with a good reputation into the toilet.

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Hog Hunting

You already know I live in Texas. Texas is the national leader in lots of things, but one thing we aren’t happy about is the fact this is the leader in feral hogs. Unfortunately, there are millions of feral hogs in this state.

You must understand, feral hogs cause millions annually in damage to agriculture and property. Feral hogs are literally like roaches. They breed quickly, then they destroy the property. Ranchers do not like them. After all, would you like a bunch of feral hogs on your property, digging it up, eating your crops and shitting all over the place? Feral hogs breed with domesticated animals, leading to a wide variety of characteristics in the hogs themselves.

Hogs are strong, crafty and fast. They have an idea people don’t want them. They do not want to die. Despite the dozens of videos out there on hog hunting, its not an easy task. And yes, this particular task is why AR-15’s aren’t going away any time soon. That particular rifle is well suited to the task of feral hog eradication.

So take a look at the hog hunting video we’re posting. It’s not sport killing; it’s eradication. Unlike in this video, not all of these hogs are good eating. A hog hunter I know is also a soldier in the US Army. He has a method to prepare feral hogs for eating to remove their gaminess. In the instance we are posting, the main hunter is eating all of the feral hogs they’ve killed. They did so humanely.

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A Tale of Caution for the Las Vegas Raiders

Have I mentioned that yet? The Raiders are indeed leaving Oakland (again) to move to Las Vegas.

Tell me this is a good move.

Let me tell you of another team that moved from its home, due to political issues: the Washington Redskins. Team owner Jack Kent Cooke built a new stadium in Suburban Maryland, in a town called Landover, the former home of the Landover Mall. You have to understand this, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was a dump. It seated just about what the tarped Oakland Coliseum does now; 54,000. You understood that Washington’s fans were right on top of you there. They had the Hoggettes. They had the band playing “Hail to the Redskins” whenever they scored. It was a very intimate place to play football. It was not going to be a fun day for a visiting team in that place.

The Redskins were also a pretty good team. They had won three Super Bowls in a 12 year time span under head coach Joe “Jake” Gibbs.

When they left RFK Stadium, they basically lost whatever edge that team had as far as home field advantage. The team was already in steep decline. The fans were away from the field. Get this, the Raiders are moving to another state. The Redskins moved 15 miles! These were the same fans, they still had the band, but the ATMOSPHERE was totally different. If you’ve been in both of those stadiums, you know what I’m talking about, and you know it’s true. After Cooke’s death, Daniel (freaking) Snyder bought the team and set about making it a money making machine. The Redskins are now one of the most valuable teams in the league. Snyder increased the revenue streams into revenue rivers. 

Oh, did I mention the team sucks? Since 1999, the Redskins have played six playoff games. Three of them have been in Washington. They are 1-2 at home in the playoffs since the move from RFK.

In their tenure at RFK Stadium, Washington was 70 games over .500 during the regular season, with an 11-1 playoff record. 

Mark Davis is going to make a ton of money in Las Vegas. Still, his team isn’t going to have the same fan support there, no matter what. Raider Nation travels? So what? The fans aren’t going to be on top of the opposing team like they are in Oakland, even if they are the same fans. Opposing players aren’t going to be wasting time with fans screaming at them in pregame. Las Vegas police won’t turn the other way, like they do in Oakland when the fans give the other teams fans crap. Owners like Jerry Jones — how that guy got in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a complete joke, a suck up of enormous proportions — look at skyboxes and think money in their pockets. So does BobMcNair. In the eyes of their fellow owners, they are successes no matter what their team does on the field because they are cashing in. For the fans, they just become disgruntled as their teams collapse.

You say, what about the Baltimore Ravens? They left a dump in Cleveland for a brand new stadium in Baltimore, and they won a Super Bowl in short order, right? Right. But Baltimore has a history as a gritty tough NFL town with some of the greatest teams and players in NFL history. They embraced the Ravens, and yes, Baltimore is a tough place to play. To their fans it was like the Colts came back with a different name and a real defense. They didn’t comp tickets to the visiting team’s fans, a certainty to happen in Vegas.  John Elway would have become a legend IF he had been drafted by Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens.

Have you noticed all the new stadiums look similar? 

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RV Snobbery

As you all know, I have a travel trailer. It’s occasionally referred to as a “bumper pull.” I let the guy who referred to my travel trailer as a “bumper pull” that I didn’t care what he thought of it. Frankly, I thought he paid a lot of money for something to tow around.

I’ve learned recently that some RVers are concerned with the type of RV other people have. As you may suspect, those persons with motorcoaches seem to be the most concerned. That’s when your RV — if it is not a motorcoach — may be referred to in less than flattering terms.

The one thing in RVing I don’t go for is RV snobbery. Here’s a fact: If you’re pulling, driving or towing your home — it’s going to get small quickly. Here’s something else I find to be true: I don’t RV to stay in my RV. We went to Yellowstone. We are going to Glacier, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain this year. We’re going to see those places and we will not give a damn what it looks like on the inside. Our Yellowstone trip was a perfect example of this. Only one of our 8 days in the park did we get back before 7 pm. That meant dinner, a hot shower and going to sleep.

If the goal of your campouts is to brag about your RV, your life is sad. Trade the damn thing in and stay at home. Maybe you can look at the walls of your house and blow your own horn about how many windows you have.

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Latest Cruise

About 18 months ago, I booked a cruise while on board a cruise. My intent was to sail aboard the Carnival Breeze and eat Guy Fieri’s burgers.

That’s it. That was my only goal, besides getting roasted on a nightly basis.

Mission Accomplished.

I had a great time on this cruise, mainly because I sailed with my sister. My wife didn’t want to go to the Bahamas; I didn’t care. That meant I didn’t have to get up early for excursions; there were three sea days and three ports. I spent an ungodly amount of money. I SLEPT. It was a vacation.

The cruise was completely cool. I had never sailed to the Bahamas before. It was just relaxing, getting some fun in We also visited Key West in addition to Freeport and Nassau. Key West to me was a tourist trap; Freeport and Nassau needed our visit. Apparently the Bahamas had been hit by a heavy duty storm last year. We could see the damage in the ports. One person who had been away from the port told us the islands were a wreck.

A couple of things I’d like to note:

Sailing out of Galveston was cool. Most of the people cruising were from Texas or other parts of the Midwest. The other cruisers were actually decent human beings. They were … polite. Much more polite than you’d see if you were sailing out of Miami or the West Coast.

The Breeze is not like it was the last time we sailed her in 2012. The ship is tired, and she’s going into dry dock for upgrades. It’s going to be a great ship again when they are done.

Finally, we booked another cruise for next year. I’ll discuss that one more in the upcoming months but the next one is going to be the biggest big deal of our cruises so far.

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